26 November 2017



'The wind peeked at my panties. They're pink!'

Oh dear. You guys know me, right? You know that I normally like to say mostly positive things about films. After all, who am I to slate what might possibly be the culmination of someone's life's work, or tell someone that their metaphorical film-'baby' is a hideous ugmo that should never have seen the light of day, rather, that it might have been doing the world a favour to have, ahem, well, strangled the abomination at birth? I don't want to ever do that.

Well, Sion Sono's TAG is described as 'a dream-like, mind-melting blend of action, fantasy and horror' and also 'a surreal horror that combines his (Sion Sono's) arthouse aesthetics with equal doses of pro-feminist action fantasy, and the kind of ultra-gory exploitation film-making that would make Takashi Miike and Yoshihiro Nishimura proud.'

Well, it's certainly gory, I'll give it that. There's enough gore here to spread over, maybe, two or three horror films. No-one's questioning the amount of gore here. The amount of gore is not the issue. I can handle gore, any amount of it, if there's a compelling or intriguing storyline to hang it on. I'm afraid the lack of any cohesive narrative is probably my main problem with the film. Let me see, anyway, if I can attempt to explain the bit of plot that I was able to follow (miaow!) and show ye what I mean.

Mitsuko is a mopey-looking Japanese schoolgirl (well, I'm sorry but she is!) who is busy scribbling angsty schoolgirl poetry on the school bus, when a terrible supernatural wind suddenly whooshes along and slices the top off of the bus and takes all the student's heads with it. Mitsuko is spared because, at the precise moment of the bloody decapitations, she's scrabbling about on the floor of the bus looking for a dropped pen. Talk about a lucky break.

She exits the bus and starts to run, with this malevolent wind more or less in pursuit. Passing mangled and bloody corpses along the way, corpses who've obviously been introduced to this wind just a short time before, she eventually outruns the wind and runs herself all the way to her school, where her best friend Aki is waiting for her and everything, for some reason, is completely normal again.

I was interested enough up to this point. After this juncture, things just went cuckoo-bananas completely. Mitsuko and her friends decide to skip school and run to the nearby lake, where one of the friends attempts to sell them the notion of alternate realities (a-ha!), in which any one action of yours can trigger off a wholly unexpected chain of events.

Then the girls decide to run back to school again for some reason (this director really loves to film girls running), where a couple of female teachers, for no reason, pull machine-guns on the students and set them all running- running again!- for their lives away from the school.

Mitsuko apparently runs so far that she runs herself into the next reality, a much less interesting one in which she morphs into a completely different actress altogether and she's now a bride-to-be called Keiko. Some rather disgusting, over-the-top violence has Mitsuko-Keiko on the run again, to the most boring reality of all the realities in the film.

Can you guess what her next job will be? That's right. She's a runner, an actual runner, called Izumi now. She runs all the way to the game's- sorry, the film's- conclusion, a conclusion so bizarre and confusing that I was honestly thrilled when the credits rolled.

Here's another thing. What does this conclusion say about the men in the film and the things they like to watch and the things they like to do? Are they doing, in this so-called alternate reality, the things they'd really like to act out in real life but they're afraid to because there might be consequences from society? 

I'd be seriously worried about society at large if that were the case. And I'd be nearly one hundred percent certain as well that there'd be no female equivalent for what the men in TAG are doing, because women just don't seem to want to do these things as much as men do and, if they did, there'd bloody well be uproar.

And I'm puzzled, genuinely puzzled, as to how this film can possibly be labelled pro-feminist. Why is this? Because women are seen breaking the arms and the necks of other women and glassing them in the face and the gut with broken bottles? Because the film features mostly women and almost no men? This, to me, does not imply pro-feminism. Does it to you? And here's something else to chew on as well.

Every schoolgirl in the film is wearing a skirt up to her arse. The director's camera is trained straight up these tiny skirts to capture their tiny white schoolgirl knickers. He does this over and over and over again in the schoolgirl segment of the film. I'm just wondering in what way this is a pro-feminist type of thing.

I know all about the Japanese obsession with schoolgirls and I know the way they sexualise schoolgirls in their films and their manga comics and their animés and whatnot and that's their business. But to call TAG a pro-feminist film is a bit like calling Hitler a highly-motivated individual, surely?

Now keep your knickers (white schoolgirls knickers, naturally) on, I'm not comparing TAG to Hitler or any such thing. I'm just saying that I don't in any way, shape or form see it as a pro-feminist film. I'm also saying that, with any luck, I'll never see this film again, tee-hee.

I don't think I'm being prudish. You guys know me, I'd just as soon tell you in detail about my last disastrous sexual encounter as I would about the sandwich I had for lunch. (Ham and coleslaw, nothing to write home about!) On the rare occasions when I find something offensive in a movie, you can pretty much rely on its actually being offensive. If you trust me enough, you might even take my word for it.

But you guys can, of course, make up your own minds. The film, 'Sion Sono's gory, pro-feminist mashup of grindhouse and arthouse,' is available to buy now, in a rather spiffing Dual Format Edition, from EUREKA ENTERTAINMENT. It's your money...!


Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:


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